No more swipes: Mastercard is ditching magnetic stripes

Aug 19, 2021

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From chip-and-PIN to contactless payment, credit card technology has improved dramatically in the last decade. In the interest of protecting consumers’ personal information, it’s no surprise that these developments have increased in cadence as data breaches have been more common than ever before.

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Contactless MTA subway payments are now the norm in New York City. (Photo by The Points Guy)

Following this wave, Mastercard will no longer require magnetic stripes on most of its debit and credit cards starting in 2024 — beginning the migration with new payment cards in the network’s European market.

Here’s the timeline that Mastercard expects to eliminate its magnetic swipe technology, which dates back to the 1960s.

  • 2027: In the U.S., Mastercards with chip technology will no longer be required to come with a magnetic stripe.
  • 2029: No new Mastercards will come with a magnetic stripe, save for the prepaid cards in the U.S. and Canada.
  • 2033: There will no longer be Mastercards with magnetic stripes on the market altogether.

These changes are incremental for a reason. Although two-thirds of U.S. merchants already accept contactless payments, merchants will have more than a decade or so before magnetic swipes disappear altogether. Fortunately, these new payment technologies don’t require any additional legwork to implement, making this transition as seamless as possible.

Ultimately, this move protects merchants and consumers from security risks, and this is likely a trend we’ll find with other payment networks. For example, 45% of all in-person transactions were made through contactless payments, so it only makes sense that the magnetic stripe will be phased out as we seek alternative options.

As technology advances, we already see new concepts such as biometric cards that confirm the cardholder’s fingerprints as another way to level up security.

Featured photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images.

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